Canindia News

The politics and optics of official apologies

Pradip Rodrigues

Following the release of an ethics report clearly stating that PM Justin Trudeau broke conflict of interest rules by inappropriately pressuring Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin affair, the PM refused to apologies saying he did so only to save Canadian jobs. In other words, his breaking of the rules was ethical given the broader issues at stake. Circumstances do matter as well as existing rules, times and laws.

However, when it came to apologizing for other historical wrongs committed by Canada including the Komagata Maru episode, the laws, social make up and times really didn’t matter, PM Trudeau made it his first of many official policies just six months after his 2015 election.

It is apparently easier for PM Trudeau and Liberals in general to apologies for historical mistakes committed willfully or unwittingly decades and centuries ago than it is to express remorse for contemporary issues. It is after all easier for anyone to offer an apology on behalf of someone else, especially if the people involved are dead than it is to apologies for one’s own mistake.

A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian

It is hard to see PM Justin Trudeau or for that matter any of his Liberal MPs insisting that a Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian when it comes to Jihadi Jack who is likely to end up coming ‘home’ one way or the other. How the Conservatives must hope that he ends up back in Canada under the Liberal watch, because if that happens, the Liberals could end up as the largest opposition party after the upcoming elections.

Jack Letts was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by British media after leaving the UK in 2017 to join ISIS. Today he is being held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria and just recently the UK stripped him of citizenship leaving him, and his family, all dual citizens of Canada longing to come ‘home’. It could also refuel debate over whether Ottawa should be allowed to revoke dual citizens of their status as Canadians if convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

In a prescient move, former PM Stephen Harper back in 2014, amended the Citizenship Act to allow Canada to strip the status of any dual citizen who is found guilty of terrorism, among other things. The Liberal government under Trudeau reversed that decision in a bill that passed through the Senate in 2017, how the Liberals must wish they had that valuable piece of legislation.

Now here’s the thing, without that legislation, Canada doesn’t have the leverage to block Jihad Jack’s entry into Canada. While Canada is not legally obliged to facilitate his exit from jail and fly him ‘home’, it cannot stop him if he shows up. The spectre of Omar Khadr another convicted terrorist haunts Canadians who had not only to bring him back but pay him $10 million for the alleged torture he endured while imprisoned. Canada apparently didn’t do enough to secure his early release. So, it is quite likely that if and when Jihadi Jack shows up, lawyers will be lining up to argue that his Charter rights were violated when the Canadian government dragged its feet and allowed its citizen to be tortured! -CINEWS

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